Three Queens-based organizations collaborate to bring the legacy and music of Armstrong into all 62 branches of the Queens Library System
April 23, 2017: Queens Library has joined forces with Louis Armstrong House Museum and theKupferberg Center for the Arts @ Queens College to launch a systemwide celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” in all 62 branches of the library with free workshops, concerts, lectures, video, and surprise events between now and June 30th.
“There’s so much in ‘Wonderful World’ that brings me back to my neighborhood where I live in Corona, New York,” Armstrong said in 1968. “Lucille and I, ever since we’re married, we’ve been right there in that block. And everybody keeps their little homes up like we do and it’s just like one big family. I saw three generations come up on that block. And they’re all with their children, grandchildren, they come back to see Uncle Satchmo and Aunt Lucille. That’s why I can say, ‘I hear babies cry/ I watch them grow/ they’ll learn much more/ then I’ll never know.’ And I can look at all them kids’ faces. And I got pictures of them when they was five, six and seven years old. So when they hand me this ‘Wonderful World,’ I didn’t look no further, that was it.”
With a grant from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Queens Library, the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Kupferberg Center for the Arts @ Queens College have curated a program comprised of multiple opportunities to celebrate Louis Armstrong’s music, history, and belief in “listening to all kinds of music.” Performances include lectures by staff and LAHM (include Spanish) and 12 performances by world-class musicians who reflect the diversity of cultures and communities who make up the fabric of Queens. Special arts activities include collage making and other opportunities for participants to share what “makes their world wonderful,” and what makes Queens a wonderful world. A video about the song’s history and its relationship with the political and social upheaval of the 1960s will be shown in select branches. In addition, programming includes pop-up concerts in all branches.
“While the song reflects Louis Armstrong’s feelings about the neighborhood of Corona and borough of Queens, it also applies to the way many of our customers experience our libraries,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “It speaks to the joy of discovery and the satisfaction of learning that occurs each time people come to us for information that helps them succeed in their lives. Our partnership with Kupferberg Center for the Arts @ Queens College and the Louis Armstrong House Museum offers a great opportunity for everyone who visits our library locations to absorb Satchmo’s optimism and reinforce his sense of wonder about the world.”
“We are thrilled to be working with the Queens Library to bring ‘What a Wonderful World’ programming to all 63 library branches in the borough and in turn make the arts more accessible to everyone in Queens,” says Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “What better way to communicate our College’s mission to serve the students and families of our borough than through a celebration of one of America’s (and Queens’!) most-beloved cultural icons?”
“The Louis Armstrong House Museum is thrilled to be sharing the legacy of the GREAT Louis Armstrong throughout the borough of Queens and beyond the neighborhood of Corona he loved so much where the museum is based,” says David Ostwald, Chairman of the LAHM Board and Leader of the Louis Armstrong Eternity Band.
This year’s celebration features a selection of exciting musical artists, each drawing inspiration from Louis Armstrong and underlining his influence worldwide. Highlights include David Ostwald’s Grammy-nominated, traditional New Orleans-style group, Louis Armstrong Eternity Band; Min Xiao-Fen’s reinterpretations of jazz classics in “Blue Pipa: From Harlem to Shanghai and Back;” Indian-inspired jazz from composer and guitarist Prasanna; pan-African percussion/vocal group Akoko Nante Ensemble; folk band Radio Jarocho mixing the sounds of the Mexican countryside with New York City jazz; and, a series of lectures from experts and archivists from Louis Armstrong House Museum (in both English and Spanish) across Queens.